Mustard Love, pt. 1
About 10 years ago, 20-something year old me fell in love with a collection of artwork called ‘Meet the Mustards’ by Sam Toft. Her artistic style and clever characters inspired my first attempt at writing a short screenplay. I know, I know, the formatting is all wrong, but the idea is there and my simple hope is that you enjoy the vision, although, Sam Toft has already created a brilliant and memorable vision — I just added nonsense, and by nonsense I mean words and music. The following is a blast from my past and scene 1 (there will be 7 in all).
(“Did You See the Words” - Animal Collective)
NARRATOR: Ernest Hemingway Mustard. That’s me… riding the bicycle. And that’s Doris, my faithful companion, also known as Her Majesty. The name speaks for itself. And this is our life. We live it one day at a time.
Ernest stops his bicycle at the top of the hill. Doris, his stout jack russell companion, pops her head out of the basket that’s equipped to the front of his bike. Together, they overlook the greenest hills they have ever seen. They see nothing but green, apart from the few patches of lavender trees and a taxi driving amongst them. In the far distance, they both spot a building that they know oh so well, and Ernest knows he’s running late again.
ERNEST: (turning to Doris and giving her a small smile) Almost home, Doris.
Doris watches Ernest as he starts pedaling again, down the hill and toward the building.
NARRATOR: This is our home. It’s a not-so-damp basement flat on the Brighton-Hove border, and it’s ours. My Dear Lady Wife, Violet, is in there. We’ve been married for years, but my heart never stops racing for that woman.
On the arrival to the flat, before Ernest can even stop, Doris leaps out of the basket and waddles to the front steps. Ernest stops his bicycle and leans it against the brick wall. He gathers the two loaves of bread that had been in the basket with Doris and walks toward the front door.
ERNEST: (looking at Doris) You never cease to amaze me, girl.
Ernest opens the front door and walks into his favorite smell in the world: his wife’s famous shepherd’s pie.
NARRATOR: My favorite.
Doris waddles between Ernest’s legs and makes herself comfortable by the roaring fire. He closes the door behind him, takes off his hat and coat, hangs them on the hook by the door, and proceeds to find his wife in the kitchen. She’s standing over a pot on the stove, stirring intently.
NARRATOR: I love watching her with everything she does. Every move, every gesture, every action she makes is with such precision and care. No step of hers is unnecessary.
After several moments of appreciation, Violet finally notices Ernest and he walks toward her to give her a kiss on her cheek.
ERNEST: Sorry I’m late, deary.
VIOLET: Quite alright, dear. Our guests seem to be running late themselves. Did you pick up bread on your outing?
Ernest places the two loaves of bread he had bought at the market onto the counter.
VIOLET: Ah, thank you, my dear. Why don’t you go freshen up a bit and I’ll finish in here. Ms. Banes and her new gentleman friend should be arriving any minute.
Ernest leaves the kitchen and heads toward the bathroom. Doris’ eyes follow him as he passes. He turns on the sink faucet, washes his hands, and stares in the mirror. He leaves the water running after he finishes with his hands and continues to stare at himself. He notices a dirt smudge here and there.
NARRATOR: Dirt smudges. Wonder how long these have been on my face. This explains why people kept staring at me all day. I thought I was just pretty.
He reaches for the wash cloth, puts it under the running water, and washes his face.
There’s a rapping at the door. Doris makes a grunting sound.
NARRATOR: That’s her terrifying bark. It’s the only sound she can muster. Burglars beware.
Ernest can hear Violet mumble something to herself as she walks toward the front door.
VIOLET: (opening the door) Valentine! Come in, come in. Where’s your friend?
Violet had opened the door to find only Valentine Banes, wet and with no man accompanying her, only Red, her smooshed-faced pug standing by her side.
VIOLET (CONT’D): And when did it start raining?
As Ms. Banes walks into the front room, Violet helps her take off her dampened coat and hangs it on the hook alongside Ernest’s.
Ernest is now sitting in his favorite leather chair, feet up on the ottoman, and a cheery canary sits to his side in an antique cage.
NARRATOR: This is Joyce Greenfields. A joy to all that cross her path, even when Doris is on a wrath. Her songs can turn any frown upside down, ask anyone in town. She seems magically inclined to make people rhyme... at any time.
Doris hasn’t moved an inch – only her eyes to observe the room.
MS. BANES: Started raining just a few moments ago. We saw Ernest and Doris on our way. Glad they made it home before it started.
NARRATOR: Ah. They must have been in that taxi we saw.
VIOLET: (looking at Ernest) Ooh, you got lucky, love.
ERNEST: So I did.
MS. BANES: Anyway, Henry couldn’t make it, of course. I don’t think it’s going to work out.
VIOLET: Why do you say that?
MS. BANES: I don’t feel it.
NARRATOR: What’s ‘it’?
VIOLET: What’s ‘it’?
MS. BANES: You know… IT.
Violet turns to look at Ernest and questions him with her eyes as to secretly ask him “what is it?” He shrugs.
MS. BANES: ‘It’… as in the spark between two people. That feeling when you just know this is it.
VIOLET: Oh, ha!, that ‘it.’ I see. Well, it’s only been a couple of weeks. How can you tell he doesn’t have the ‘it’ factor?
MS. BANES: Because I don’t feel ‘it,’ Violet. One needs to feel it within the first few moments of meeting. Otherwise, it’s just another lost cause and waste of time.
Violet and Ernest chuckle to themselves.
NARRATOR: Valentine is a hopeless romantic. She has never had a relationship last longer than seven months and each relationship winds up shorter than the previous. But my sweet wife always gives her the support she needs to stay strong and never give up hope on finding Mr. Right. Violet and I both know we are of the lucky sort. I’m sure she had felt ‘it’ immediately.
Violet smiles at him and notices he’s already smiling at her.
NARRATOR: That smile says it all.
VIOLET: (still looking at Ernest) You’ll find him, dear. If you stop looking, he will come.
Ms. Banes lets out a deep sigh.
VIOLET: Can I offer you a little chocolate wine?
MS. BANES: Please.
ERNEST: I’m wondering if I can get some…
VIOLET: (cutting Ernest off in mid-sentence) Chocolate wine? Why, yes, you can. I’ll be right back.
Violet heads to the kitchen to get three glasses of her fancy chocolate wine.
ERNEST: (speaking loudly to Violet from the living room) May I have a few marshmallows in mine?
NARRATOR: I love marshmallows. Too much, I think.
From the kitchen, Violet rolls her eyes. She puts a handful of Ernest’s favorite marshmallows (the pink ones) in a little silver bowl and sets it on a tray. She pours three glasses full of wine and sets them next to the marshmallows. She then places three napkins on the tray and takes it into the living room. Ms. Banes is now sitting in a chair near the fire, warming herself, and making conversation with Doris.
MS. BANES: Doris, you remember Red, don’t you?
Red is sitting right at her master’s feet, but curious to get closer to Doris. Doris looks at her with disregard and turns her head to look up at Ernest and rolls her eyes.
ERNEST: (chuckling to himself and in a low voice) Ha, like mother like daughter.
Violet sets the tray on the coffee table. She hands Valentine and Ernest each a glass, grabs the last one for herself, and sits on the couch. Ernest scootches to the end of his chair so he can reach the marshmallows.
VIOLET: Only you, my dear.
ERNEST: Only me what?
VIOLET: Only you could tamper with the elegance of wine.
NARRATOR: Oh, my dear. I love you.
ERNEST: But it’s chocolate. Marshmallows and chocolate are like peas in a pod, yogurt and granola, Doris and petunias.
MS. BANES: He makes a very convincing argument, Violet.
Ms. Banes smiles and reaches for the marshmallows. She puts a few in her glass. Violet chuckles and decides to put a few marshmallows in her drink as well.
VIOLET: Who’s hungry?
Thank you for reading. I appreciate everyone that has made it this far down the page (and even those that didn’t, haven’t, nor won’t). More scenes will follow very soon, so if you enjoyed the story and want to read more but aren’t already subscribed, maybe consider it? Also, maybe consider sharing? Many thanks! Cheers, Hannah